9 Oct 2013

Mag #189 - Clocks

image by crilleb50
Man seated on park bench, pondering the inscrutable, surrounded by clocks of the ticking variety and also dandelion clocks. Remember those? Blowing the seeds off the dandelion, and however many blows it took to disperse them all was what the time was. Do kids still do that??

I love real clocks. I grew up with them. They had hands and faces and ticked gently in the background.

There's something soulless about digital clocks.

My Godmother had a thing for clocks and her house contained many. There was at least one, and often more, in each room. In her lounge room there was a clock on the mantlepiece and two pendulum clocks on the wall. They were the kind that have a wooden case and three bevelled glass panels in the front so that you could see the pendulum swinging. One had Roman numerals and the other Arabic, and they both had Westminster chimes, although only one had the chiming part wound up. Two going off every quarter of an hour would have been a bit much.

On our mantlepiece at home we had one of those clocks that's shaped like a hump-back bridge and you had to open the glass front to wind it up. They were ugly clocks.

My Aunty Ginny had a grandmother clock in her cottage. It was made of a light-coloured wood and stood in the corner recess by the fire. She kept the biscuit tin in the bottom of the case, and if we behaved ourselves she would get it out and let us have a biscuit. No-one else I knew had a clock that big. Most people just had mantel clocks.

I once had a cuckoo clock which we got on holiday in Europe. It was weight-driven and the weights were in the shape of pine cones. I don't know what happened to that clock.

Lots of people now can't tell the time using a clock with a face. It's always 8.40, not twenty to nine, etc. In fact, when I've been asked the time and put it in those terms I've received bewildered looks, so I have to rephrase it.

I have proper, ticking clocks in my house.


Here's a puzzle. Mantlepiece is spelt 'tle' but a mantel clock is 'tel'. I wonder why?

Image supplied courtesy of Magpie Tales and Tess Kincaid. More prose and poems can be found there.


  1. I love the bit about digital clocks being soulless. I can't sleep with the ticking sound unfortunately and my house contains no clocks except the clock on laptops, cellphones and what not. I don't even have an alarm clock. I do love the look of a proper clock and I had a cuckoo clock once with weighted pine combs!

  2. I do agree that digital clock are soulless but are convenient.

  3. Hi Sue, this is Jan from Gut Art enjoying the photo and writings on clocks. I still wait to find the dandelion clocks to blow, I don't know if parents find time to show their little ones these gems today. I love the sound of real clocks and would much rather wind a wrist watch than change a battery, but then no one seems to wear them much, they have cell phones instead. No wonder I get odd looks, I do sometimes say the old way of telling the time, twenty to nine. bfn magentastorm :))


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